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Jørn Mortensen, rektor ved KHiO
Jørn Mortensen, rektor ved KHiO

Letter from the Rector: Dear new students

Welcome to the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and congratulations on being admitted here! You have all been carefully selected after an extensive admissions process full of auditions, interviews and assignments. You should definitely feel as though you belong to a unique and highly selected group.

But simply being chosen for something is not enough to be successful. Your time at the Academy must also be spent on hard work and intense efforts – not only by yourself, but also along with other students. Filling your weekly schedule here is usually not a problem: surveys show that the Academy’s students at spend an average of around 45 hours a week on their studies. Part-time students are in other words not to be found here at the Academy. This work ethic will serve you in good stead the day you have to survive as a professional artist or designer.

As I have said before, the Academy can be seen as a laboratory – that is as a platform and environment for trial and error, exploration AND sharing. The teachers, students, stages and workshops here provide an optimal base for creative exploration. It’s by no means certain that such an opportunity will turn up again any time soon, so make the very most of your time while you’re here.

The Oslo National Academy of the Arts is a special place, in the sense that it gathers together both the visual and the performative arts. This enables exchanges to take place between a variety of disciplines and communities, exchanges that we have begun to see the interesting effects of in recent years. I encourage all the new students to get to know the entire school and discover what can be found here. This will provide you with the types of perspectives and acquaintances that enrich any career as an artist or designer.

For a school such as the Academy, the students play a vital role as the very senses of the institution. Students will often discover cultural and social changes more quickly than others. This is why the students’ experiences are essential for an institution of higher learning that aims not only to convey tradition but also to be innovative and contemporary. Along with the staff’s expertise and experience, each student’s ambitions and energy represent the most important raw material for the activities here. Indeed, our strategy plan for the next five years states that we shall use the students’ perspectives to develop the school.

It is when the students’ ambitions are confronted by the know-how of our teachers and other staff members that constructive disciplinary criticism comes into being as a productive unit. Our ethos is to let a variety of professional viewpoints and opinions wrestle with one another in a stimulating, constructive dialogue. If such a professional dialogue cannot take place at an institution of higher learning like the Academy, where can it do so? In short, you might even say that we have a political and cultural duty to be a laboratory for productive disagreement.

Being such a laboratory is perhaps more necessary than ever at a time when society is looking for new answers to new questions. The arts have been involved in transitions and social revolutions for over three thousand years now. At a time when many here in Norway are searching for “Norwegian values”, it is worth recalling the “artistic value” of being curious and of exploring what it means to be human. In other contexts, I have observed that the Academy’s civilising mission lies in its profoundly humanistic obligation to explore what it means to be a social, critical, psychological, physical and perceptive human being. This is not an academic exercise, but an artistic one. This observation still applies.

So, dear new students, this is why you have been admitted to the Academy – because you represent many of the solutions to the challenges of tomorrow. We’re counting on you!

Good luck!

Oslo, 21 August 2017

Jørn Mortensen